Monday, June 04, 2007


each morning at 10:30, i report to francis, stonelake farm's garden director. he assigns me a task in the garden that takes about an hour. in exchange, i receive fresh farm eggs and delicious dinners that come straight from the garden. plus, i learn a whole lotta new gardening knowledge and skills. the deal is sweet.

first task: working with melinda, we built supports for the tomatoes.

second task: digging and prepping circles for watermelons, cantaloupes, and winter squashes.

the garden requires an unbelievable amount of forethought, attention, research, love, and labor. task done, i roll - to go read, to go eat, to go be mindful, to go find the waterfall. francis and melinda stay put and keep working.

from my standards, the garden is huge and includes one main section and about four or five smaller, terraced plots. the goal, melinda says, is for the garden to feed her and francis as well as visitors to the farm.

a week ago, while in omaha, sarah and i saw author/farmer/humanitarian barbara kingsolver on the television. we only caught the last five minutes but everything she said made so much sense. upon returning to the city, i bought her new book, animal, vegetable, miracle, thinking it would be a perfect book to read at stonelake farm.

it is.

with excellent help from her husband steven and eldest daughter camille, kingsolver manages to horrify and delight. she horrifies with stories of terminator genes, genetically modified seeds that after one year of life are programmed to commence a species-wide suicide - killing the plant, preventing the farmer from saving seeds for next year's crop, and boosting profit for corporations like monsanto. and she delights by recounting how much health and joy and well being and pleasure she and her family gather from working in and eating from their garden.

kingsolver's book and stonelake farm share many similar characteristics, i think, and one of them is this - both are rooted in growing solutions not merely bemoaning situations.


kq said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kq said...

oh. silver. oh snap. oh synchronicity. oh sibilance.

i just started the same kingsolver this past weekend while taking the train to and from chicago. i am also reading around in michael pollan's omnivore's dilemma, marion nestle's what to eat, and warren belasco's appetite for change. (trying to figure out about readings for fall classes). i am reserving judgment with the kingsolver. i fear that it is tinged with sanctimony and privilege.

wish that we could float on a body of water to get to the bottom with this. with swash and some seasonal foods, of course.

enjoy the labor. fight the languor. work yourself into a lather.

sarah said...

i look forward to reading the kingsolver book and chatting with you and kq about it. what fun!

i'm reading The Prodigal Summer, which is about a different type of outdoors: the mysterious appalachia. so far, it's a good read. i had forgotten how much i enjoyed kingsolver's books.

and yes: pollan. keep meaning to read that one, and perhaps re-read the botany of desire. i think we should organize a bookgroup! we can skype! blog! webcam! :)

....J.Michael Robertson said...

And I'm reading Dawkins "The God Delusion," who (I think) would find more than enough awe and delight for the human mind in the tending of a garden. On brave new world with such vegetables in it! (Nice pictures.)

Nancy said...

I haven't read that Kingsolver but her first 3 novels were some of my favorites ever. Animal Dreams was a book that I forced myself to put down instead of turning the page over and over because I just couldn't bear that it was going to end. Wonderful writer.

The Sheck said...

The comments are just as interesting as the post.

First off, having just gotten our own veggie garden off the ground (summer comes late in Vermont), I appreciate the awareness to the work of the garden. Yesterday, I went out in a drizzle of my own to pluck the "suckers" off of my tomato plants and to check on my newly transplanted zuchinni. I thinned my arugala and tasted the premature peppery leaves, making me even more excited for next month when they will be fully ready for my salad bowl.

As for the Kingsolver, can't wait but I certainly had pangs of hesitation similar to kq's when I read the review in the Times. I too have just started Pollan. I like the idea of a book group to discuss...

david silver said...

ooh, what a great book list.

while kingsolver has been my go-to book, i'm also thumbing my way through h. c. flores' food not lawns: how to turn your yard into a garden and your neighborhood into a community and john beardsley's gardens of revelation: environments by visionary artists. i also borrowed (from the octagon's library), re-read, and thoroughly enjoyed make way for ducklings.

Chris said...

I have not had a chance to start the Kingsolver book, but have been receiving regular missives from these folks here in Austin - - they run an "urban farm" that is on the outskirts of Austin, although that distinction is becoming less pronounced as the sprawl continues. The reason I mention it is that their weekly e-mail deliveries are fascinating to me as they describe their efforts to keep things running and how a simple rainstorm can throw a wrench into so many plans, yet how can a farmer curse rain? This has now become my daydream - quit the job, buy part of the farm from them, and learn the details until I can reasonably know what I am doing.